Myrtle Beach officials meet to improve bike, pedestrian safety

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The Myrtle Beach Bike & Pedestrian Safety sub-committee met on Tuesday morning to discuss early stages of planning to make Myrtle Beach streets safer.

The committee will ultimately be putting in their recommendations to fix bike paths, sidewalks, and other traffic concerns to city council but first members need to know where to start.

The 19 subcommittee members have each been looking at a particular section of the city, and there are some big road safety concerns. Even though the members know there are issues, more work needs to be done to determine exactly where to fix it. City Planner Jack Walker says the last city street map was done in the 1980s, and more than 20 miles of sidewalks have been added since then. So by going back to the basics and starting a new map of all the concerns, city officials hope to get a better picture of what needs to be done.

The goal of the committee is to "find out where there are gaps in the sidewalks, gaps in the bike lanes, and bring that information back," said Bill Pritchard, chair of the subcommittee. "And get the city to map it for us so we can use that as a base reference as we go forward."

Once the city street details are finished, the map is expected to show which areas should be the highest priority. The subcommittee is considering starting with Ocean Boulevard, and making changes near the hotels so tourists know where they can bike and walk. The thought is it could even play into Myrtle Beach's sports tourism efforts, since improving bike lanes and cross walks will make more room for cyclists and runners next to the roadway.

After the tourist areas are covered, then the efforts can expand to other parts of the city. But there's also the cost to worry about, since street improvements are never cheap. Walker says when cities plan ahead for improvements, those cities get moved up the list for funding. He also says there are plenty of funding opportunities that could come the city's way.

"A lot of these improvements we will be working on will hopefully be funded at the private sector enhancement funds," said Walker. "And so the sooner we have a plan in place, then the more proactive we can be working with the development community as well."

But it could still be a while before there's progress, since once the committee brings its plan to city council, there will be a ten-year outline for improvements.

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